Jon Jon Briones Presents Honorary Awards at 2018 Unity Gala, Today

Jon Jon Briones Presents Honorary Awards at 2018 Unity Gala, TodayNew York--Olivier Award-nominated actor Jon Jon Briones will present the honorary "Nepales" awards at the Friends of the Philippines Society USA's maiden benefit dinner, titled "2018 Unity Gala," on Friday, May 11, 6 p.m. at Cipriani 42nd Street.

Ruben Nepales, former Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Janet Nepales, Executive Secretary of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) will be honored. Governor Andrew Cuomo will be honored for his contribution to diversity and inclusion in the state of New York. Special guest of honor will be Her Royal Highness Princess Katarina de Silva of Yugoslavia and Serbia.

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Committed to empowering diversity and integrating multiculturalism, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization Friends of the Philippines Society USA aims to promote understanding and cross-cultural collaboration in the global milieu. The 2018 Unity Gala will support programs designed to provide a meaningful exchange of opportunities, connections, and information in educational, cultural, business, and social context--enhancing appreciation of the Philippines and United States and strengthening national and international alliances.

The program for the evening includes founders Edwin Josue and Jerry Sibal's presentation of the organization's vision and mission, awards ceremony and a special program featuring the Parangal Dance Company, "Noli Me Tangere Opera" soprano Brittany Palmer and tenor John Andrew Fernandez, along with fashion shows by renowned designers Rene Salud and Rocky Gathercole.

Ruben Nepales is an award-winning journalist based in Los Angeles. In 2012, he became the first and only Filipino to be elected as chairman of the board of the prestigious of HFPA, which votes on and presents the annual Golden Globe Awards. He is also the first Filipino to be elected as a member of the HFPA where he currently serves as a board member. Among Ruben's honors are prizes from the National Entertainment Journalism Awards, a U.S.-wide competition, and the Southern California Journalism Awards, presented by the Los Angeles Press Club. Ruben's first book, "My Filipino Connection: The Philippines in Hollywood," published by Anvil Publishing, Inc., won in the print journalism - book category of the Migration Advocacy and Media Awards presented in December 2012 by the Office of the President of the Philippines' Commission on Filipinos Overseas.

One of the Filipina Women's Network (FWN)'s "100 Most Influential Filipino Women in the U.S." in 2012 and one of the "100 Most Influential Filipino Women in the World" in 2013, Janet Susan Rodriguez Nepales is an award-winning journalist. Janet is a co-author of the first FWN book, "DISRUPT: Filipina Women: Proud. Loud. Leading Without A Doubt." Based in Los Angeles, Janet was elected as the Executive Secretary of the HFPA and is the first Filipina to hold that position. She was one of the executive producers of this year's Golden Globe Awards show, which celebrated its 75th anniversary. Janet has won awards from the Philippine American Press Club (PAPC) as well as the Los Angeles Press Club (LAPC). She won the Journalist of the Year Award in 2017 from the "Women of Worth" Awards in Los Angeles.

"Ruben and Janet Nepales, being journalists, are a Hollywood Power Couple," said Edwin Josue, Chairman of Friends of the Philippines Society USA, "They have reached the top of the hilt in their careers. They have interviewed all of the A-list stars and have shared their journalistic prowess in the movie world. We are truly proud of their achievements. It is befitting that they are honored for their works through our Unity Gala."

Andrew Cuomo is the 56th Governor of New York State, having assumed office on January 1, 2011. The Governor has a lifelong commitment to public service and the proven leadership skills to make government work for the people of the state. Throughout his time as Governor, he has been working to make communities across the state stronger and safer for all New Yorkers. This includes restoring New York's reputation as the progressive capital of the nation - with groundbreaking accomplishments like passing marriage equality, a $15 statewide minimum wage, and 12 weeks of paid family leave. The Governor has maintained support of the ongoing NaturalizeNY - the first-of-its-kind public-private partnership to encourage eligible immigrants in New York State in becoming U.S. citizens. Citizenship benefits immigrants through stronger protections from deportation, the right to vote and run for elected office, and the ability to assist more family members with immigrating to the United States.

Photo: Jennifer Broski

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